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Students protest for planet

Students are set to skip school once again to strike for climate change action tomorrow.

Students and other supporters will gather at Heipipi Endeavour Park near the courthouse from 1pm until 2pm.

They will be joining students around the country who are striking for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic reached New Zealand.

“Because of the lockdowns, Covid and precautions, we didn’t have a chance to run things as we would normally,” said Gisborne co-convener Henarata Kohere Pishief.

Henarata, who is in Year 11 at Gisborne Girls’ High School, said the strikes were necessary to demand climate action.

The School Strike 4 Climate must be intergenerational, says the movement’s Facebook page.

“Parents, teachers, aunties, uncles and grandparents are asked to join youth on April the 9th to stand up for climate justice.”

Henarata is hoping for a good turnout tomorrow, but says a lot depends on schools.

“It’s really dependent on if the schools let their students go and how willing students are to risk being marked truant or absent.”

Henarata says some teachers are supportive while others are sceptical about students taking time off.

The Girls’ High members have filed the paperwork for the time off to attend the strike and the girls are confident senior students will be allowed to attend.

This will be the fourth intergenerational climate strike since School Strike 4 Climate started in March 2019, when 80,000 Kiwis protested.

Then in September the same year, 170,000 marched throughout New Zealand demanding action from politicians and the public.

Around the world, on every continent, more than 14 million people have been involved in climate change protests.

The Gisborne strike action has been spearheaded by the student leaders, organising themselves, filling out paperwork, and speaking with the media, says Henarata.

So far all the members are from Girls’ High, Campion College and Boys’ High, but they want to involve students from Lytton High and kura kaupapa.

“Normally we meet every Tuesday, which could be just five minutes to an hour. It depends what we have to get done for that week.

“This year we’re looking to expand the group itself. We’re very focused on Gisborne/Turanga, so we’re looking to see how we can get in touch with students from schools up the Coast.”

PROTEST POSTERS: Girls’ High students involved in tomorrow’s climate change protest gathered at the Tairawhiti Environment Centre to prepare their signs. At front is Sofia Newman and behind her, from left, are Tessa Lapointe, Sophie Lapointe, Henarata Kohere Pishief, Makayla Douglass, Ngahuia Riddell, Jashan Kaur and Amy Adcock.Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

  1. Stuart Moriarty-Patten says:

    It is encouraging to see Gisborne youngsters raising the alarm over climate change, and I wouldn’t want to undermine that. However, I feel that there is a conversation that needs to be had about what people demand.
    Pinning your hopes on merely making adjustments to the present system which is destroying our world isn’t enough. The only way to effectively campaign to halt climate change is to impart a true picture of capitalism. Its insatiable hunger for profit is not only undermining the working and living conditions of billions of working people, but the basis of life itself.
    Don’t see your role as just needing to make enough noise to wake up political and business leaders. Capitalism cannot move towards sustainability and zero growth; it cannot be reformed to become a green system. This way of thinking supposes that things would be fine if we all bought organic food, never took a holiday flight, and put on more clothes in winter rather than turn up the heating.
    This completely ignores the way capitalism operates, and must operate. Successful functioning of the system means growth or maximising profit, it means that nature as a resource will be exploited ruthlessly. Not ending capitalism is something that only attacks the symptoms rather than the cause. Green capitalism is not worth fighting for.
    There is a need to create a different form of social organisation before the present system destroys us all. The entire thing needs to be replaced with an approach which produces for human needs not profit.
    To organise production in an ecologically sound way we can either plead with our rulers, or we can take democratic control of production ourselves. The reality is to truly control production we ourselves have to own and control society. So, a society of common ownership and democratic control is the only framework within which the aim of saving the planet from climate change is achievable. In reality if you wish to halt climate collapse, you have to be ready to become an anarchist.

  2. Doug Smith says:

    Stuart says, “There is a need to create a different form of social organisation before the present system destroys us all. The entire thing needs to be replaced with an approach which produces for human needs not profit.”

    Only the uninformed would argue with this critique of the status quo (global industrial capitalism) or with the remainder of Stuart’s challenging post. But I suspect many readers would like more thoughts about what alternate forms of social organisation would be sustainable?

    I think we could learn much from the many pre-Euro-contact peoples who learned to live sustainably and well, Polynesians in particular.

    In Hawai’i, people thrived for centuries using sustainable aquaculture, farming, fishing and manufacture in a feudal society structured by ecological land use divisions based on watersheds (the ahupua’a), functional subdivisions (‘ili) and larger regions (moku/motu). Rapa Nui society did not fare so well. Sustainable indigenous cultures in the Americas found ways to live sustainably on large landmasses, but also experienced failures.

    I can’t help wondering if there could be valuable lessons here for future generations looking for better alternatives to anarchy?

    1. Doug Smith says:

      Kanawai (literally, “belonging to the waters”) translates as law, code or statute. As scholars Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert suggested in their definitive Hawaiian-language dictionary, the meaning of kanawai is “perhaps so called because many early laws pertained to water [wai] rights.”

      At the heart of traditional Polynesian sustainability was a deep appreciation of the transcendent values of nature and creation, an embrace of the practical and the sacred, and cultural attitudes of duty and stewardship rather than ownership and consumption.

      See: https://hanahou.com/10.4/ka-wai-ola